Etc.: D.R.U.M. stands for Divine Rhythm, United Motion; if you've ever experienced this rousingly authentic ensemble, you know just what that means. Beginning as a percussion outfit in 1988, D.R.U.M. has grown into something much greater than the sum of its intricate tribal rhythms. And they snatched the Press' Best Reggae/World Beat award from longtime favorite Wazobia last year.

D.R.U.M. performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Artist: Eardrum
Nominated for: Best Traditional/Ethnic; Best Act That Doesn't Fit a Category
Sound of choice: Tradition-based ethnic that defies categorization
Time logged: More than six years

Etc.: This odd, loud collective, which sets its Celtic and Central European influences as often as not to rock beats, is becoming one of Houston's perennial cult bands, with a small but loyal following and a never-say-die attitude. Members leave to follow other interests, and then frequently show up at the gigs for old times' sake. Despite the changes, Eardrum keeps marching along to the beat of a decidedly different drummer.

Eardrum performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at McElroy's Pub.

Artist: Paul English
Nominated for: Best Jazz; Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound of choice: Original jazz keys
Time logged: Twenty years

Etc.: While English is as adept at classical as jazz -- in some circles he's best known as a classical piano composer -- he's living proof that musicians capable of any style tend to prefer jazz over all others. A young guitar player once described a lean period in his career with the observation, "Jazz players don't eat." English, by contrast, has established that an indomitable determination to be a jazz musician can create a career even in a city that's never been a hotbed of the form.

Artist: Flamin' Hellcats
Nominated for: Best Act That Doesn't Fit a Category
Sound of choice: Texas Vato-billy
Time logged: More than two years

Etc.: This hard-driving trio had a CD in the can two years back, but label conflicts kept that work from ever seeing the light of day, which makes the upcoming Speed Freak the Hellcats' first available product. It's produced by former Road King Jason Burns and should be out any day now on My Way Records for European, and maybe domestic, release.

Flamin' Hellcats perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Cydney's.

Artist: Flashback
Nominated for: Best Cover Band
Sound of choice: Standard cover fare
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Struttin' its stuff on the Gulf Coast cover circuit since 1993, Flashback boasts a bulky set list that spans four decades and plenty of bells and whistles (light show, etc.). And you can bet that they take their duplication work seriously. Right now, the group is in the midst of recording its first CD, Party Hardy.

Artist: Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters
Nominated for: Best Blues; Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound of choice: Honking, wailing blues saxophone
Time logged: More than 40 years

Etc.: Grady Gaines has this trick of hitting a high, wailing note like a man stepping off the edge of a high dive and holding it all the way down to the water. He did it in the 1950s with Big Walter Price on "Pack Fair and Square," and he still does it every chance he gets, from his work with Gatemouth Brown to his numerous nightclub shows to his gigs at Funday in the Park stages all over town.

Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Metroplex.

Artist: Galactic Cowboys
Nominated for: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound of choice: Busy, tuneful smart rock
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: No strangers to disappointment, Katy's Galactic Cowboys have had a hard time capitalizing on some ripe opportunities over the last few years. Frustrated after their first two major-label releases went nowhere, the group broke up for a short spell before reforming last summer and landing a deal with Metal Blade, Metallica's old label. Machine Fish is the new CD, and it's filled with the same relentlessly melodic heavy rock that's long been the band's trademark.

Artist: Bob Gallarza
Nominated for: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound of choice: Modern Tejano, impeccably arranged
Time logged: Twelve years

Etc.: An acclaimed guitarist and producer with a lengthy list of credits and superhuman quality standards, Bob Gallarza has been called the Quincy Jones of Tejano. It's a heady comparison, but the superlative isn't far off the mark.

Artist: Geto Boys
Nominated for: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound of Choice: Gangsta rap; lean, mean, obscene
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: After six releases, numerous fallouts and one lengthy breakup, the Geto Boys had every right to slap an overblown title such as The Resurrection onto their 1996 comeback. Willie D, Scarface and Bushwick Bill set aside their differences and returned to the game with a vengeance this year, and let's face it, if it weren't for these South Park trendsetters, gangsta rap would still be about gold rope chains, Raiders caps and lip-synching to "Straight Outta Compton."

Artist: Global Village
Nominated for: Best Funk/R&B; Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound of choice: A lot of the above, with some reggae
Time logged: Six years

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